NEW YORK CITY, NY – According to a news story on streetsblog.org, a new report published by the Independent Budget Office shows that drunk driving arrests have dropped about 46 percent from 2013 to 2019. However, the report states that the number of accidents involving injuries or deaths caused by intoxicated drivers has increased by 31%.
Bernard O’Brien, the report’s author, compared state crash data and state arrest numbers and stated that the number of injuries and deaths should have gone down since there have been fewer intoxicated drivers on New York roadways. Mr. O’Brien believes the trending numbers are noteworthy and raises interesting questions.
The report’s findings raise questions about law enforcement practices and policy. The report also shows the high cost of drunk driving as thousands of people are injured or killed by drunk drivers every year in New York City.
Mr. O’Brien did not provide any theories as to why severe DWI crashes are up, and DWI arrests are down. According to the report’s findings, misdemeanor arrests have declined since Mayor de Blasio took office. Mr. O’Brien believes it is conceivable that the NYPD has modified its approach to combat crime. An anonymous law enforcement observer speculated that law enforcement officers might not feel confident about administering breath tests and making DWI arrests.
According to the New York Times, chemical breath tests that are administered in the field have been unreliable. This may also account for the sudden drop in DWI arrests. The streetsblog.org article reports that the collected data “definitely suggests” that the NYPD officers have not been proactive about making DWI arrests.
NYPD spokeswoman Detective Sophia Mason responded to the reports by saying arrests for Driving While Intoxicated has decreased due to the popularity of ride-sharing services. In addition, the waves of COVID 19 cases have impacted the number of DWI arrests. Detective Mason also credits the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safe Passage initiative, the Vision Zero High Visibility Enforcement initiative, and having Highway Patrol officers focus on speeders and impaired driving during nighttime hours to the reduction in DWI arrests.
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